Wednesday, 13 March 2019

An Exciting New Romcom Series - Guest Post Liz Eeles

This week, I'm delighted to welcome back to Wendy's Writing Now good friend and talented author, Liz Eeles. Not only do we share the same publisher but Liz lives in the next town from me which is lovely. The first in Liz's new romantic comedy series, New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle, was published this week by Bookouture. Publication week is always a busy time for authors but Liz kindly spared me a few minutes to answer a few questions. Hopefully her answers will whet your appetite for her new novel.

Can you remember where you were and what you were doing when the idea for New Starts and Cherry Tarts at The Cosy Kettle first came to you?

Not really – which isn’t a great start on question 1! I wanted to write about the beautiful Cotswolds, where I grew up, and knew the book would have a romance at its heart. But the rest – the bookshop, the café, and how my main character, Callie, grows in confidence and stops being such a people-pleaser – came to me gradually.

What three words would you use to describe your novel?

Funny, heart-warming and romantic.

How long did it take you to write?

I wrote a pretty rough first draft in about four months and spent another month re-writing it, before it was in a fit state to start going through the edits process. Having a deadline really helps me to sit down, stop faffing about and get on with it.

Do you think it’s easier to write a series than a standalone novel?

That’s hard for me to judge because my first three published books are also a series, set in Cornwall – though all three can be read as standalones. Writing a series is probably easier in some ways because your characters and setting are already established by the time you get to books 2 and 3. And it’s great to have the space to develop characters and stay with them for longer. But it can be tricky if you resolve a character’s problems in book 1 and then have to come up with more problems for them in book 2 or 3. I always feel a bit mean putting them through another trauma!

Who was your favourite character to write?

Definitely Stanley, Callie’s granddad. He’s just had his eightieth birthday and has decided to become his ‘true self’ before it’s too late. This involves saying what he thinks, taking on challenges from wild swimming to parachute jumps, and becoming an eco-warrior. He was great fun to write and I’m delighted when readers say how much they love him.  

When you write a character, do you have an image of a real-life person in your head?

Not really, though Josh, the handsome hero in my first Cornwall trilogy, ended up looking rather like Richard Armitage in the TV series North and South, which was absolutely fine by me.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Getting away from my computer and out into the open air helps to blow away the cobwebs. I live on the south coast, so I walk a lot by the sea with friends and enjoy having a good natter. And I love watching telly and can often be found binge-watching box sets.

What does your family think of your writing?

They’re all very supportive, especially my husband who always reads an early draft of my books - I’ve introduced him to the genre of romcom. He’s also very long-suffering as publication day approaches and my anxiety levels start rising! 

Any advice for budding authors?

Don’t listen to that little voice in your head which says: You’re really rubbish at this writing lark, you’re wasting your time and will never get anywhere. I’ve realised that published authors – even those who sell loads of books – can suffer from anxiety about whether they’re good enough. So, keep going and seek informed and constructive feedback on your work, rather than listen to your inner critic.

What next for Liz Eeles?

More Cosy Kettle books! I’m editing the second book in the series at the moment, and the third and final book - which will be a Christmas story - is all mapped out. Now all I have to do is write it!

After yet another failed romance, twenty-six-year-old Callie Fulbright is giving up on love. She’s determined to throw all her efforts into her very own, brand-new café: The Cosy Kettle. Serving hot tea, cherry tarts and a welcoming smile to the friendly locals proves to be the perfect distraction, and Callie feels a flush of pride at the fledgling business she’s built.

But her new-found confidence is soon put to the test when her gorgeous ex reappears in the quaint little village. She’ll never forget the heartache Noah caused her years ago, but when they bump into each other on the cobbled streets of Honeyford she can’t help but feel a flutter in her chest…

As Callie and Noah share laughter and memories, she starts to wonder if this could be her second chance at happiness. But when Callie discovers that someone is mysteriously trying to ruin the café’s reputation… she has an awful suspicion that Noah knows who’s involved.

Was she wrong to ever trust him again? And can she find out who’s behind the lies and rumours, before it’s too late for the Cosy Kettle?

You can buy New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle here:  AMAZON

About Liz

Liz Eeles writes funny, feel-good romantic comedies set in the Cotswolds and Cornwall. She was brought up in Gloucestershire so the Cotswolds are 'home', and she fell in love with Cornwall during family holidays there as a child.

Liz worked as a journalist for years and brought up a family on the south coast, all the while writing fiction on the quiet. After being short-listed in a couple of national novel-writing competitions, her dream of being a published author came true when she was signed by Bookouture.

Website                Facebook             Twitter

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The Day My Life Changed

Today, I watched a group of school children and their parents pass my window on their way to school. Nothing unusual in that, you might think - the half term holidays are, after all, at an end. On any other day, I wouldn't give them a second thought but today... well, today is a milestone. Eight years ago, to the day, I watched a similar group of children walking to school. That day would be the first time in years I would not be getting into my car and driving to my own small primary school to start my day as an English teacher. You see three days earlier, I'd been given the devastating news the school would be closing and we were all to be made redundant.

People often talk about the pivotal moments in their lives and this was mine. My life, as I knew it, was about to change, but I had no way of knowing then how much. I could have stayed in education but (even though I'd been happy at my school) I'd never felt teaching was what I really should be doing. It wasn't a career I chose carefully, rather I fell into it. My mum and sister were both teachers and, in all honesty, I just hadn't come up with a better plan.

It was my chance to try something new... but what?

By chance, my brother had just completed an online creative writing course. He'd enjoyed it and thought I might too. Why didn't I give it a go? I did. I loved it. Then I did a second. A little voice in my head said, this is something you're not bad at. Why not give it a go?

At first my ambitions were small. I wanted to have a story published in a magazine. But when, to my delight, I did, I wasn't satisfied. I'd got the bug. I wanted more. I began to take my writing more seriously. I had more stories published. I had serials published. I wrote a novel... then two more. What had started as a hobby was becoming something else. Without me realising it, I had a new career.

Today, after the schoolchildren had gone past my window, I thought about whether I had any regrets. Whether I missed those days in the classroom. I realised I hadn't missed them at all. Not once in the eight years. And that's because I've been doing something I love.

As May, when the first of my novels will be published, creeps closer, and my excitement mounts, I know that sometimes adversity can bring its own rewards. Misfortune can have a silver lining.

I might complain about the edits, the deadlines, the mind-numbing dullness of reading your manuscript for what feels like the zillionth time, but I wouldn't change it for the world. 

Really. I wouldn't.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

So Excited to Reveal the Cover of my Debut!

It feels like I've been waiting so long for this moment... the cover reveal of my debut psychological thriller, What She Saw, which will be published by Bookouture on 1st May in e-book, paperback and audio.

I was first sent the cover (along with the new title) in November. The email from my editor arrived while I was on holiday in La Gomera, sunning myself by the pool. I loved the cover immediately and I had to restrain myself from showing the woman on the sun bed next to me! 

The official cover reveal day was actually over a week ago but it's taken me this long to update my blog as I'm in the thick of edits for book two. But what a day it was! 

At 4.45 pm precisely, Bookouture made the above announcement on Facebook and other social media, and then the fun began. Good wishes, wonderful comments about the cover, shares and re-tweets began and all of these lovely well-wishers needed to be thanked and replied to. Not that I'm complaining - I was truly thankful to know that my cover reveal was being well received.

That wasn't all the good news though, as at the same time as the cover reveal, the e-book of What She Saw was also put on pre-order. So exciting!

Not that I was Amazon rating watching (well only a little) but it was exciting to see my novel race up the charts even though it won't be published until May!

If any of you lovely readers would like to pre-order What She Saw for just 99p (it's a great opportunity as the price will rise on publication) you can follow the links below.

Apple Books: 

I'd love to know what you think of the cover and tagline. Just leave a comment in the box below.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

How I Survived Second Novel Syndrome

I've just looked at the title of this post and I feel rather satisfied with the alliteration which was totally unintentional. It's nice when things just work for you... unlike second novels.

Yes, this post is all about the dreaded 'second novel syndrome'. Those of you who are writers and have written more than one book will know what I'm talking about and, even if you haven't experienced it yourself, you will probably have heard of someone who has. As experiences go, it really isn't that great.

So what is second novel syndrome?

Well, it's exactly what it says on the tin. It's the problem that arises when you've written a novel you're happy with and then have to do the same thing again... just as well or even better.

Let me set the scene. You've spent months or years writing your first novel, have had it read by beta readers, have maybe had a critique (such as the one you get if you're on the RNA NWS), you've fiddled and changed and fussed and made it as perfectly perfect as it can possibly be. What you've had is TIME. Time to let the idea brew, time to write, time to get it just as you want it. While you've been writing, you've had no one breathing down your neck, no deadlines (unless you've made your own - and these can be broken without penalty), no one 'waiting' for your next book with expectations. You've been able to write when you like and, if you've not felt like it, could leave your computer and do something else.

Basically, you've been your own master. 

Then something wonderful happens. You manage to find yourself an agent, or, as I did, approach some publishers yourself. You're offered a two-book, or maybe even a three-book, deal (is there such a thing as third book syndrome?) and even as you're popping open the champagne, you know that, already, things have changed. At last you're going to be a published author but you will no longer be travelling this path alone. Joining you will be your agent (if you have one), your editor and, eventually, your readers.

Your first novel has been accepted but now your editor is asking you what you have in mind for the second one. Could you write an outline? A synopsis? Inside your head you're screaming, but I haven't had time to think up something as good as novel one. I need years. 

Hard luck - you'll have to think of something fast!

So you delve into the farthest reaches of your imagination and, amazingly, manage to dredge up an idea you think might work. You get something down on paper and, to your surprise, your editor likes it. So far so good. The problem is, this time you don't have years to write the thing. Depending on your publisher, you might get only a few months AND it will have to be written at the same time you're working on the edits, publication and marketing of book one.

Not only this, but all the time you're writing your second novel, you are doing it under the weight of expectation. If this one's not as good as the first, there will be a lot of people you'll be letting down... your agent, your editor and, most importantly, your readers.

This is where the doubt kicks in and the niggling voice in your head becomes more insistent. Am I just a one-trick pony? Do I only have the one good book in me? Do I deserve to be writing this second novel? Would I be better off sweeping chimneys?

And the suffering hasn't finished yet. While you're writing your second novel, the characters from your first will still be with you as you edit and proofread their story. As you try to cast an entirely new set of characters for novel two, they'll be whispering in your ear, these people are boring. Who would want to spend time with them when they're not as engaging as us?

The doubt becomes stronger. You lose your powers of objectivity. Around thirty thousand words, you think that every sentence you write sounds trite and the nearer to the end you get, the more you feel like an impostor.

That's where I was last week as I wrote THE END to novel two whilst in the thick of edits for novel one. As I pressed 'send' and waited for my editor to read it, I have to admit to being scared (even though she is lovely). What if she hated it? 

Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long. Withing a few days, my editor came back to me. She didn't hate it... or tear up my contract! In fact, although we'll need to do some work on it, she said it was a very strong second novel with a twist that was even better than the first. I could have cried with relief.

The moral of this story: I experienced second novel syndrome and I survived. And, if I can, so can you!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

2019 Bring it On!

Happy New Year to you all, and I wish every one of you good health and happiness for 2019.

Last week, best writing buddy Tracy Fells and I met up in our favourite cafe, armed with our target notebooks, for teacakes and a spot of yearly goal setting. We've been doing this for six years now - six years! I can hardly believe it. 

In my last post, I looked at whether I had achieved my 2018 goals. You can read it here.

But this post isn't about looking back, it's about looking forward and, if I'm honest, the 2019 goals have been harder to set than previous years. Why? Because where my writing goes this year will depend on how well the two books that will be published in May and August do. If I'm lucky, I might be offered another contract with my lovely publisher, Bookouture. If not... well, I'll just have to cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

There are a lot of things that I will be doing this year now I'm under contract: completing the publication process for book one then starting and completing the editing and publication process for book two. After that, there will be the publicity and the marketing to think about... not to mention the celebrating! But, these are not exactly goals. They're things that have to be done as the wheels of the publishing machine turn. 

It would be cheating to put 'to have two books published' as my goal for 2019!

Instead, I need to think about where I want to go after that and what new things I'd like to have achieved by the end of the year.

So here they are. My goals for 2019:

  • To enjoy every minute of being a published novelist .

  • To secure another publishing deal (this one is out of my hands).

  • To think about and start novel 3 (which is actually novel 4 as my first novel is still awaiting a publisher).

If I can achieve all these things in 2019, I shall be a very happy writer indeed.

What about you? Do you have yearly writing goals? If so, do feel free to share yours in the comments and I wish you the very best of luck with them.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Did I Achieve my 2018 Writing Goals?

It's time to say goodbye to the old writing year and welcome in the new.

Last week, I took a detailed look at my writing year which you can read here, but today I'm looking at the specific goals which I set with writing chum, Tracy Fells, in the first week of January 2018. As always, we wanted to make the goals achieveable (although we knew that luck would play its part along with hard work).

When writing this post, I looked back at my 2016 and 2017 roundups and saw that, in both years, I hoped it would be 'The Year of the Novel'. It wasn't to be and neither was it this year. BUT big things (novel related) did happen. I got a publishing contract with Bookouture and next year WILL be the year of the novel (or novels - as my second will be published in 2019 too).

So, going back to my specific targets, how did I do?

Goal: Submit something to my RNA New Writing Scheme reader. 

Achieved? Yes. I submitted my first novel for a second opinion. This novel went on to make the top five in the Simon and Shuster/ Darley Anderson Literary Agency 'Write Here Right Now' competition. 

I am delighted (based on goal number two) to have now graduated from the New Writing Scheme.

Goal: Continue submitting to agents/publishers with a view to having my first two novels published.

Achieved? A big fat YES (and also no). I made the decision, earlier in the year, to stop submitting to agents and submit directly to publishers. Within days, I had an offer of a two-book deal with publisher Bookouture but this would be for my second novel and a new one.

Goal: Continue to write two stories a month for the magazines.

Achieved? No. Because of my commitment to the novels (writing novel two while embarking on the editing process for book one), I realised that it was impossible to focus properly on both the novels and the short stories. Sadly, it was the stories that had to take a back seat.

Goal (Non-writing related): To play carols on my new violin by this Christmas.

Achieved? Yes! I bought a book of carols and (what joy!) found I could play nearly all of them. Sadly, I lacked the confidence to play them in front of anyone other than my husband and daughter though.

... and that's it for another year. Next week Tracy and I are meeting to set our 2019 goals and you'll be the first to see them when I post them here later in the week.

All that's left, is to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

My Writing Year 2018

Today, as tradition requires, I shall be looking back at all the lovely things (writing and otherwise) that I've done during 2018. Huge thanks, as always, to everyone who has travelled this journey with me.

January - I started the year with the usual teacakes and goal setting with writing chum, Tracy Fells, and I shall be posting how I got on with them after Christmas. I rejoined the RNA New Writers' Scheme. I started submitting my novel to agents. My first guest of the year was Amanda Brittany.

February - This month's guest was Rosemary Goodacre.

March -  Went to the Write By the Beach Conference in Brighton.

April - Had a wonderful few days in Mallorca. Natalie Kleinman was this month's guest. 

May - Submitted my manuscript to Bookouture. Elaine Everest was my guest. I had a week in the fabulous Lake District. Had an email from Bookouture editor requesting a phone call!

June - Angela Petch was my guest. Attended Cream of Crime talk (Mark Billingham, Erin Kelly, Sarah Hilary and William Shaw) at Steyning Festival. Attended the Audiobook Secrets event at Horsham Library (interview with Katerina Diamond and Antonia Beamish) as part of the Love Audio week, where I tried my hand at narrating! My first novel, The Book of Memories' made the top five of the Write Here Write Now novel competition run by Darley Anderson Literary Agency/Simon and Schuster. Biggest news of the year: I was offered a two-book contact with Bookouture. Started writing book two in contract.

July - My guests this month were Deirdre Palmer and Vivien Hampshire. Had some author photos taken. Went on a lovely canal boat holiday. Started structural edits on book one.

August - Bookouture announced my book acquisition. Samantha Tonge was this month's lovely guest. Started line edits on book one.

September - Was told that my first novel will be made into an audiobook. Had a wonderful holiday on the Greek island of Meganissi.

October - I co-hosted the first ever live author Q&A on Twitter for The People's Friend. Attended an evening with Elly Griffiths at the Gluck Studio.

November -  Had a week in La Gomera. Travelled to London for dinner with my Bookouture editor, Jennifer Hunt. Attended the RNA Winter Party.

December - Started my copy edits for book one. My final guest of the year was Kate Helm (Harrison).

All in all, it's been a very momentous year. The highlight being my two-book deal with Bookouture. 2019 will be even more exciting as it will see the publication of my two psychological thrillers. It's been a long time coming so bring it on!

I hope you've all had an equally productive year and thank you for your support.